Dr. Ajay Nair Named 22nd President of Arcadia University

By RetterJ | March 21, 2018

GLENSIDE, Pa. (December 7, 2017)– After a national search, Arcadia University is proud to announce that Ajay Nair, Ph.D., has been named the institution’s 22nd president. A nationally recognized expert in student affairs issues and an accomplished social justice, race, and ethnicity scholar, Dr. Nair assumes his role at Arcadia on April 2, 2018.  

“Dr. Nair is a proven leader who has had success at several of the top universities in the country,” said Alison (Aaron) Madsen, Esq., chair of the Board of Trustees and an Arcadia alumna. “As an international scholar, social justice practitioner, and first-generation college student, he demonstrates a distinct understanding of the complex issues currently facing universities and their students. We have complete confidence that Dr. Nair will move Arcadia forward as a leading liberal arts institution.”

Dr. Nair is among the first American-born university presidents of Indian descent nationwide, and he will be the first person of color to serve as president of Arcadia.

“It’s a blessing to return home to the Philadelphia area to lead an institution with the potential to transform delivery of a liberal arts education to produce work-ready and life-ready students,” said Dr. Nair, Arcadia’s incoming president. “I look forward to working with our stakeholders to build a compelling vision for Arcadia that creates best practices in higher education.”   

Since 2012, Dr. Nair has served as senior vice president and dean of Campus Life at Emory University, where he leads nearly 1,300 employees and provides strategic financial oversight for an annual budget of more than $79 million. Dr. Nair oversees a wide variety of departments, including Athletics, Center for Civic and Community Engagement, Belonging and Community Justice, Career Center, Student Health, Racial and Cultural Engagement, Residence Life, and International Student Programs, in addition to holding a faculty appointment in the Department of Sociology. He is also the most successful fundraiser in the history of Emory Campus Life; the organization’s fundraising tripled during his tenure.  

At Emory, Dr. Nair has tackled some of higher education’s most formidable challenges. Under his leadership, Campus Life has become a national pacesetter on issues of social justice. He has served on a wide range of university and civic boards and organizations, including currently as editorial board member of INSIGHT into Diversity magazine and director of the Division for Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice for NASPA (Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education).

Dr. Nair’s current book project focuses on the state of multiculturalism in higher education and aims to present a new model for diversity and inclusion in higher education. His co-edited book, Desi Rap: Hip-Hop in South Asian America, focuses on the complexities of second-generation South Asian American identity.

Prior to his work at Emory, Dr. Nair held executive leadership positions at the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University, and the University of Virginia. There, he led offices and services charged with supporting the intellectual, social, personal, and professional development of students. In his distinguished career in higher education, Dr. Nair has held faculty positions at each of the aforementioned universities, as well as the World Language Institute in Kwangju, South Korea.

“Dr. Nair’s creative vision and energetic leadership made an immediate impression on the Search Committee,” said Joycellen (“Jey”) Y. Auritt, Ph.D., an Arcadia alumna who served as chair of the Presidential Search Committee and currently is vice chair of the Board of Trustees at Arcadia. “He has the passion and expertise that our search committee sought and that our University needs, and we look forward to working alongside him.”

A native of the Philadelphia region, Dr. Nair earned his Doctor of Philosophy and Bachelor of Science from the Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Nair is married to Paayal Nair, a school psychologist and graduate of the Pennsylvania State University and the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. They have a 15-year old son, Krishna Nair, and a 12-year-old daughter, Rani Nair.

Media contact: Daniel DiPrinzio, 215-572-2191 (office), 215-439-3338 (cell)